Heroes of the FaithJanuary 17-21
Heros of the Faith: Abraham’s Calling
By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. – Hebrews 11:8 (ESV)
“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” is the popular name of the last speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. King on April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. On the following day, King was assassinated. King neared the conclusion of his speech with these words, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”
Much of Dr. King’s vision was shaped by his belief that God had called Him and his desire to do God’s will. We learned in Pastor Jim’s sermon that Abraham had great clarity about God’s calling. Abraham left the comfort of his country and was willing to travel to any place where God would have him. He left home not even knowing where he was going. He simply knew God told him to leave. In Hebrews 11:8 we learn Abraham “obeyed when he was called.” The grammar suggests nearly instant obedience. He was packing his bag as God was calling. Abraham’s actions were driven “by faith.”
Faith is believing that God will keep His promises, despite circumstances that may even seem to be to the contrary! Describe a time in your life when you delayed obeying God. Describe a time in your life when you obeyed almost instantly.
Praise God for the times when He has made his call for your life clear. Ask God for clarity in areas where you don’t have it.
Heroes of the Faith: Abraham’s Focus
By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. – Hebrews 11:9-10 (ESV)
Helen Keller was asked, “Is anything worse than being blind?” She replied, “Yes, to have sight but no vision.” Steven Covey, the author of The Seven Secrets of Highly Successful People, said, “The risk of riskless living is the greatest risk of all.” Don’t end your life wishing you’d stepped out and followed God—go ahead and do it! You won’t be rewarded for “well said”—you’ll be rewarded for “well done” (see Matthew 25:21). Your dream will always be tested; its value is in how much you’re willing to pay for it. Abraham was willing to give up everything and go where he’d never been. How about you? (Bob Gass)
The life of faith focuses on eternity. Abraham “was looking for the city which has the foundations, whose Designer and Builder is God.” The city with the foundations stands in contrast with life in a tent, which has no foundation. Since God is both the Designer and Builder of this city, the foundations are solid and secure. It refers to the city above, the heavenly Jerusalem, the eternal dwelling place of all of God’s saints. The author of Hebrews is saying that when Abraham went out from his father’s country to Canaan, he was not just counting on God’s promise for that piece of real estate. He was looking beyond it to the promise of heaven.
The more we focus on earthly things the more we will find dissatisfaction in this life. The more heavenward our focus the more peace and joy we experience. In what ways may you be too concerned with earthly things? In what ways can you focus more on your heavenly rewards?
Praise God for the hope of eternity in heaven with Him and the saints who have gone before us.
Heroes of the Faith: Abraham’s Family
By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. – Hebrews 11:11-12 (ESV)
Jeanne Calment, at 122 years, was the oldest living human whose birth date could be authenticated. When asked to describe her vision for the future, she replied, “Very brief.” When the reporter asked the birthday girl what she liked best about being 102 years old, she answered, “Well, there’s no peer pressure.” Finally, John Fetterman in Madison Wisconsin told of an elderly woman who died last April. Having never married, she requested no male pallbearers. In her handwritten instructions for her memorial service, she wrote, “The men wouldn’t take me out while I was alive, I don’t want them to take me out when I’m dead.” (Dayon Huss)
Abraham and Sarah were very old and unable to conceive children. God promised them not only a son but also a nation of descendants. To underscore the promise, God changed his name from Abram (“exalted father”) to Abraham (“father of a multitude”). In Genesis 18:14, the Lord rebukes Sarah’s unbelief with the rhetorical question, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” Eventually, the nation of Israel would be a testament to God’s faithfulness to do the impossible and keep His word.
One of the most important lessons in the school of faith is to learn that God’s time is not our time. From Abraham’s time frame, even though he lived for 175 years, God’s promises appeared to fail. He died with one son and two grandsons, hardly an innumerable nation! But from God’s time frame, the true children of Abraham, those who believe in Abraham’s seed (Christ) number in the billions!
Ephesians 3:20 reminds us God “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.” Praise God for keeping His word and doing the impossible in your life.
Heroes of the Faith: Abraham’s Test
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. – Hebrews 11:17-19 (ESV)
JFK Jr. also known as Little John died on July 16, 1999, when his Single Engine Piper Saratoga crashed off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Experts concluded that he experienced vertigo or spatial disorientation. To reach his destination of Martha’s Vineyard, he would have to fly 200 miles—the final phase over a dark, hazy ocean—and inexperienced pilots can lose sight of the horizon under such conditions. Unable to see shore lights or other landmarks, Kennedy would have to depend on his instruments, but he had not qualified for a license to fly with instruments only. When an airplane is landing in the clouds, an experienced pilot will fly by his instruments. It is imperative that he trusts those instruments.
Abraham’s faith guided him when life got cloudy. God tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice his son. When Isaac asked where the sacrifice was Abraham simply replied, “The Lord will provide.” Abraham didn’t know how God would do it but knew if necessary God could even bring his son back from the dead.
Life gets cloudy and sometimes we experience spiritual vertigo. There are times when we are unsure of life because of our feelings. Feelings about being saved, secure, our future, finances, fears, or work. Faith is God’s instrument to get us home safely. Nothing in the world can deter or hinder the power of genuine faith.
Praise God for the gift of faith. Thank Him for using it to guide you safely home even when you can’t see where you’re going.
Heroes of the Faith: Abraham was a Friend of God
And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. – James 2:23 (ESV)
Two travelers were on the road together, when a bear suddenly appeared on the scene. Before he observed them, one made for a tree, and climbed up into the branches and hid there. The other could not escape, so he threw himself on the ground and pretended to be dead. The bear came up and sniffed all around him, but he kept perfectly still and held his breath; for they say that a bear will not touch a dead body. The bear took him for a corpse and went away. When the coast was clear, the traveler in the tree came down and asked the other what it was the bear had whispered to him when he put his mouth to his ear. The other replied, “He told me to never again travel with a friend who deserts you at the first sign of danger.” (The Book of Virtues by Wm. J. Bennett).
One of the highest honors of Abraham’s life was to be “called a friend of God.” Remember that before he was a “friend of God” Abraham was a pagan and an idolater! Faith took him from worshiping idols (Josh 24:2) to worshiping the one true and living God! Hebrews 11:6 reminds us, “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Author Jerry Bridges writes, “Faith is not only necessary to salvation, it is also necessary to live a life pleasing to God. Faith enables us to claim the promises of God—but it also enables us to obey the commands of God. Faith enables us to obey when obedience is costly or seems unreasonable to the natural mind.”
When has your faith cost you or been difficult to cling to? When have you proven yourself a friend to God by your faith?
Thank God for being your friend. Thank Jesus for laying down His life for you as the ultimate expression of love.